Wasp Watchers

Wasp Watchers, help us find smoky winged beetle bandit wasps at a baseball diamond near you!

The University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working to detect smoky winged beetle bandit wasps and emerald ash borer at locations throughout Minnesota. Can you help?

Smoky winged beetle bandit waspCerceris fumipennis, is a native, stingless wasps that preys on emerald ash borer (EAB) and other similar beetles. We plan to use these wasp as an early detection tool for EAB. The initial phase of this project is to locate wasp nest sites in targeted communities.

We are asking volunteers to do one of two activities:

1. Search for new Cerceris fumipennis sites in your community.

Smoky winged beetle bandit wasp site Photo by UMN Extension
Smoky winged beetle bandit wasp site
Photo by UMN Extension
–Cerceris prefer to nest in sandy, compact soil.  Cerceris prefer nesting in areas with some plant cover so baseball infields with encroaching vegetation are potential sites.  Fields that aren’t used frequently in the summer tend to be ideal nesting sites.  Informal parking lots, sandy/dirt roads, and campsites are other possibilities.

–Visit pre-identified sites on the map below (all baseball fields), search the site and look for smoky winged beetle bandit wasp nests and report back.

–Or alternatively, look at ANY suitable Cerceris habitat in your area.

 2. Adopt a known Cerceris fumipennis site and collect their beetle prey.

–Monitor smoky winged beetle bandit wasp nests at one location for several weeks, collect beetles and turn the beetles in to the University of Minnesota for identification.

–EXCEPT if you suspect EAB, in which case report your EAB find to us right away!

Links about Cerceris

Several other states have mobilized volunteer Wasp Watchers to look for EAB, so as to not duplicate efforts, please use some of their resources below to identify nests and the Cerceris wasp.

Lots of great info about Cerceris wasps
Bug Guide images of Cerceris fumipennis
Cerceris fumipennis Buprestid Hunter Wasp video
How to identify a colony
Whack a Wasp video (Maine Wasp Watchers)

Printable handouts

Wasp Watchers pamphlet
Biosurveillance protocol

Enter Your Data

Cerceris Presence/Absence Form:  If you have searched a new site for the presence of the Cerceris wasp, click on this link to start a new reporting form. Even if you didn’t find Cerceris at your site, please complete a form.  Please complete a new form for every new site you search.
Beetle Collection Form: For each day that you collect beetles at a site, please complete a beetle collection form.  If you have adopted more than one site, complete separate forms for each site as well.

Using the Wasp Watchers Map:

This is a map of possible Cerceris fumipennis wasp locations (local baseball fields) with favorable habitat for this species.   Blue magnifying glasses indicate a possible search site, red flags indicate known Cerceris site, and an X in a circle indicates that site was checked and no Cerceris was found there.

To find potential sites to search for Cerceris:

–Zoom into your area of the state.

–Click on any blue magnifying glass on the map

–A new pop-up window will open with a specific site location.

–Search the site and report your findings in a Cerceris Presence/Absence Form

–If your search site is not listed on the map, that is great!  This map is not comprehensive and you are the expert on the landscape and sites in your community.  If you search a site not on the map, simply fill out the same Cerceris Presence/Absence Form.  The map will be updated with your findings on a weekly basis.

To find a potential site to adopt and collect beetles:

–Zoom into your area of the state.

–Click on any red flag on the map

–A new pop-up window will open with a specific location.

–When you find a site you’d like to adopt, contact Jennifer Schultz (schultzj@umn.edu or 612-301-8310), Wasp Watcher Coordinator, to find out if the site is available or if it has already been adopted by another Wasp Watcher.


Thanks for your willingness to help us learn more about a native insect predator and search for EAB.

If you have questions please contact Jennifer Schultz, schultzj@umn.edu,  Wasp Watcher Program Coordinator, UMN Extension.

MDA logo

This project is supported with funding from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.